Donald Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn invoked the Fifth Amendment earlier this year, in order to try to avoid testifying about the Trump-Russia scandal before Congress. Trump’s former campaign adviser Carter Page invoked the Fifth Amendment earlier this month for the same reason. It means they won’t help take down Trump unless they’re given a favorable deal, or perhaps at all. But it’s worth noting the two key players who consciously chose not to invoke the Fifth Amendment this past week.
No one knows precisely what Trump’s former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and his former Press Secretary Sean Spicer told Special Counsel Robert Mueller when they each sat down with him last week. But we do know that they each spent an entire day answering his questions. If at any point Priebus or Spicer had invoked the Fifth Amendment on any topic, the conversation would have been over right then and there. Mueller would have instantly shifted to a strategy of how to leverage criminal charges to force them to cooperate, and they wouldn’t have been willing to sit through any more questions for fear of giving Mueller more ammunition against them.
In other words, they gave Mueller everything he asked for. They answered Mueller’s questions about everything they said and heard when Donald Trump was plotting to obstruct justice by trying to cover up the nature of his son’s meeting with the Russian government. In effect, they confessed to conspiracy to obstruct justice. There’s only one reason to voluntarily do that.
Reince Priebus and Sean Spicer each sat down with Robert Mueller with the knowledge that their cooperative testimony would prevent them from being charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice. Did they formally cut immunity deals? Was it an informal understanding that they wouldn’t be charged? We don’t yet know. But the mere fact that they saw these interviews to completion, without feeling compelled to plead the Fifth, means that they’ve served up Trump to Mueller on a silver platter.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report